Some Of The Best Female Video Game Characters

Writing well rounded characters can be difficult, but once in a while a game will rise to the challenge and produce some outstanding individuals. For international women’s day let’s take a look at some of the best female characters in video games.

Obviously this isn't an exhaustive list of every character from every game, so if I've missed someone especially notable on your list, let me know and I will wholeheartedly check out the game/character.

Here are just some of my picks:


Ellie from The Last Of Us

Ellie was the first that came to mind when writing this list, and may have been the first for you as well. She’s a kid who was born in an apocalyptic world and was forced to grow up very quickly, so she expresses both adult and child-like qualities throughout the game. Although the more innocent and childish aspects of her become less common towards the end as the brutality of the world begins to harden her heart and mind.

While Clementine from Telltale’s The Walking Dead is most people’s go to for a ‘surrogate daughter’ character, for me Ellie was a more well rounded example of the daughter side character who relies on the player up to a certain point.

You become attached to her along the way and struggle with the notion of possibly losing her or having her fall corrupted like many other before her. The difference between Ellie and Clementine comes down to the moment when Ellie takes up the mantle of being the ‘caretaker’ of Joel and showing a maturity and wisdom well beyond her years.

This is made all the more believable by the writing surrounding her character, she is inquisitive and brash, but learns from Joel’s examples earlier in the game. Following her journey across America, Ellie blossoms in a harsh environment that has killed millions and tested the strength of humanity many times over. I look forward to seeing this continued in The Last of Us 2.


Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn

Voiced by the wonderful Ashly Burch, Aloy is the kind of character I wish more young adult novels wrote their female protagonists. Aloy is not built around her romantic interests or a feeling of being bland, but wanting to be different. Instead she is an outcast, shunned from birth and raised in the wilds by a fellow outcast.

Surrounded by secrets and rejection, she sets out to earn her place in the world and prove to everyone that she belongs. What follows is an outstanding adventure, filled with robotic foes and woeful stories of sacrifice. Through it all Aloy remains strong and overcomes hurdles by growing and learning from her experiences.

She is a well rounded character, driven by her needs and curiosity about the world that surrounds her - a far better character than any young adult novel I’ve ever read.


Kassandra from Assassins Creed Odyssey

(Seriously I envy her arms.)

When I first heard that Assassins Creed Odyssey would feature a gendered option for the main character I was a bit worried. I thought that like almost every game that offers this choice the majority of the player base would go with the male choice, with the developers learning more heavily on the male’s designs, story lines and cutscenes etc. So you can imagine my surprise when social media alerted me to the fact that people were all about Kassandra.

As soon as I started my playthrough I immediately understood why. Kassandra is everything I want to be - kickass, sarcastic, independent and witty. From a young age she was exiled from Sparta and forced to live a life on the streets under the wing of a crooked peddler. She lived a hard life, but was able to rise up from the slums and make something of herself - even if it was a ruthless mercenary.

As a warrior/assassin the notion of her being a women never feels like a stretch, in fact her skills and finesse suit her personality and body perfectly. She is built solid and Ubisoft didn’t shy away from making her a hard bodied character, instead of the skinny fit female characters so often seen in video games.

Were Kassandra in the modern day you better believe she would be hitting up those crossfit early sessions and pumping those protein shakes.


Ciri from The Witcher 3

While my partner and I bicker over which romantic interest in The Witcher 3 is best, there is one thing we can agree on - Ciri is best girl.

From embodying the best parts of Geralt, to her taking control of her own destiny, Ciri is a fantastic character. While the game continues to pit Yennefer and Triss against one another for Geralt’s affections, having Ciri as a pseudo daughter figure works well with any combination of love interests.

She was written as more than just a connection to Geralt, as a future witcher to take on the mantle once he and the older witchers of his generation are gone. This may be in part due to the books the series is based upon, with Ciri being a major plot point and fleshed out in those pages more than video game development and plots usually allows.

The parts in which you get to play as her are some of my favourite from The Witcher 3, with her basically being a youthful version of Geralt who can teleport. The scenes which include her also demonstrate how alone she really feels, with a ‘big bad’ following her wherever she goes she finds herself unable to connect with anyone for long or risk their safety.

Ciri separates herself from the ones she loves, like Geralt who was a better father figure than her real father ever was, in order to protect them and spare the world from the prophecy surrounding her strange powers.

She is a flawed character and she chooses to run instead of facing her fate, which most of us would all do if faced with the same situation. She yearns for connection, but brings ruin to all she crosses paths with. The complex emotions and turmoil that she goes through is written all over her heavily scarred face, a price she has to pay everyday.


Sadie Adler from Red Dead Redemption 2

Sadie Adler is an old school feminist. She wants to be one of the guys, earning her keep in the camp and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. After her husband is killed by the O’Driscoll Boys she joins the camp and sets about a life on the run.

Once she joins Dutch’s camp she becomes irritated by her role as the assistant cook (merely cutting vegetables all day), believing she can help with more than just chores around the camp. This leads to her taking matters into her own hands and fighting off invaders later on in the game.

Sadie goes from being a damaged widower to a hard outlaw pretty quickly, taking to the new life with unsettling ease. While she takes risks and causes a few issues in camp, thanks in part to some of the backwards opinions of women that were held during the time period, she stands up for herself and even gets revenge for her husband’s murder. In the years after leaving the camp she becomes a successful bounty hunter and sets off towards South America on a new adventure.

I wish there was more of her character in the game, especially with RDR2 being a prequel and her not turning up in the original Red Dead Redemption.

Honourable mentions: Lara Croft, Isabelle, Tiny Tina, Yennefer, Triss Merigold, Clementine, Faith, Bayonetta, GLaDOS, Claire Redfield, Jill Valentine, Amanda Ripley, Morrigan, Female Commander Shepard. (And many, many more)


Comments

    It's bad enough that Bayonetta didn't make it into the featured list but to not even give Samus Aran, one of (if not THE) longest serving female protagonists in video game history, an honourable mention is a disgrace! She should have been top of the list.

      Comment above is feigning the severity of outrage whilst still being serious. It's still a great list.

        Well Samus is pretty much a blank slate and when she wasn't, in Other M, she was poorly written so i don't think she really fits with the theme of this article.

          Yeah Samus is just a sick suit of armour or a blonde in a body glove to me. Not much of a character.

            Everything I know about Samus comes from the Nintendo Power spin-off cartoons and comics. Admittedly she was an A-Grade capital-B Badass in the comics, but after playing Metroid and Super Metroid... yeah. There was no clue that there was anything in the suit other than a robot. Unless you did the completely bullshit hard mode to completion at which point you got a few seconds of Samus in her undies.

          She was fine in Fusion.

            Yeah fusion was a great game, I don't remember much characterization but it was a long time ago that I played it.

      So I have to admit to having only played the remake of Metroid 2 on 3DS (for a review), but considering just how much I loved Hollow Knight as a Metroidvania I feel like it might be time for me to go back and play through Metroid properly.

      (I am aware I need to avoid Other M)

        The fact theres an entire (sorta) genre named after the game, and that Samus is the main protagonist of said game, it should tell you something on how influential the game, and hence the characters in it, have been. Its a big miss.

          You'd have a hard presenting Simon Belmont or the protagonist from Rogue as one of the best characters just 'cause the games in which they starred are eponyms to subgenres.

          I think it has more to do with just how great the game design is in most of the Metroid games. I mean in the original Metroid no-one knew the character was female until they finished the entire game and it was a kind of "twist" that the main character turned out to be female. If anything I think Samus is a pretty generic hot blonde character and didn't do much for females in videogames. I could be wrong though, I'd love to know what female gamers think of Samus.

        Don't let Hayley hear you say that :P

        Definitely worth checking out just to see how bad it is, especially if you've played Fusion. There's a good game behind all that though, stupid pointer control sections aside.

    Coming Home, Life is Strange and Oxenfree are all really good. The lady in Firewatch was brilliantly written and voice acted.

      I very much enjoyed Life is Strange, the messages of acceptance and assuming responsibility for your actions were a wonderful change to every other plot which seems to ignore the consequences of the main character's actions on the world around them (see every recent Lara Croft game).

      Coming Home and Oxenfree are on my list to play! I will bump them higher now from your recommendation.

      Delilah! Yeah, she stuck with me for a while after playing.

        Same. Cissy Jones nailed that role.

        Delilah was up there with the video game characters I felt most invested in and you never even see her, which says a lot.

    In a similar vein to Kassandra, there was FemShep, the far superior protagonist of the Mass Effect series. The voice acting was tighter with better range and influence which made her a really compelling character.

    By the end of my run on AC: Odyssey, Kassandra was my favourite female protagonist for a long time. I started as Alexios, barely got through an hour of his over-acting before swapping. What a difference in characterization. By the end of game, had a crush on my ass-kicking female Spartan.

    The only downside was that I had then had Alexios as the antagonist and he was comically bad. Watching Youtube videos of the opposite, Kassandra appeared to make a far more threatening and terrifying villain.

    Last edited 08/03/19 10:58 am

      You messed up your spoiler tags there a bit mate.

      [edit] Wasn't meant to be a reaply to anyone, my bad.

      Aloy and Sadie Adler are on my list of favourite video game characters of all time, not just the list of favourite female characters.

      Fantastically crafted and portrayed characters.

      Last edited 08/03/19 4:37 pm

    I think i would have personally picked Aya from Origins over Kassandra. Dont get me wrong, i love Kassandra, but the whole duel guy/girl character set up... means it was a uni sexed character

      I think there's something about certain optionally-female characters that really stand apart as their own character. Kassandra, Commander Shepard, the Freelancer from Anthem all do this.

      Something about the voice-acting that really carries that stamp on their identity as female, despite there being duplicate lines available for a male character. Not every character does it - just thinking of RPGs like Numenera, Pillars of Eternity, Divinity 2, etc for example - but some really do. Like ATOM, where the world is actually different for a female character, and your gender is referenced.

      And sometimes it's just how you think of the protagonist, where despite not having any lines, you see them as this character you created for so long, across such an amazing journey, that you just really want to include them on this kind of list because you happened to create them female. Thinking God Eater 3, Monster Hunter World.

        I'm actually the complete opposite, I don't think optional male/female characters stand out at all, at least no where near as much as a game tomb raider or where tithe female character is there own person.

        There was no male Commander Shepard... That's crazy talk.

    Some other female characters who stuck with me and make up my personal extensions to the honourable mention shout-out:

    Detective Marney from Hidden Agenda (I feel like not enough people played this)
    Alette from Banner Saga (2 onward, real growth after losing her dad)
    Kara from Detroit (I may be including too much of the trailer/tech demo)
    Meve from Gwent: Thronebreaker (seems cartoonish at first, but stick with her...)
    Emily Kaldwin from Dishonored 2 (how could anyone pick Corvo first for the sequel?)
    Delilah from Firewatch (not a protagonist, but she was the only real character)

      Unfortunately I lost Alette in my playthrough... but now I will have to have another go at it with her surviving the fight!

      I also agree with Delilah and Emily as great characters. Both are flawed and well written. I adore the ending of Firewatch due to just how REAL Delilah felt.

      Thronebreaker and Hidden Agenda are games I have not yet played.

        Yeah, I lost Alette in my first playthrough, too. I mean, it was kind of a trick choice, right?
        "Do you trust your daughter to be her own young woman? Congrats! You're a great Dad! Your reward is: SHE DIES. Have we broken you, yet?"

        Kinda the opposite of the Ciri result.

    No Big Mama/Eva. A shameful list.

      Or The Boss for that matter smdh

        I'm a bit young for the original Metal Gear trilogy. I tried playing MGS3 last year and nearly lost it due to the control scheme.

          Ah yeah the controls are extremely esoteric. I'd say it's well worth just putting the game on easy and hip tossing/sneaking your way through the story. Same for MGS2. It's off the wall crazy and the themes remain relevant today, but the controls are pretty similar because Kojima is a bad man. Raiden is sexy as hell though; so it's fine.

            I'd rather just watch a youtube playthrough.

            Life is too short to spend it slipping on pigeon poop.

              Life is suffering. Mastering the poop will grant your mind stillness.

    Sadie Adler was the best part of RDR2 for me. Her arc through the game is possibly the best writing in any Rockstar game ever, and I can only hope that, at some future point, we get either DLC or an entire game focused on her.

      I'm hoping for a DLC where you can play as her during the bounty hunter phase/time skip!

      This is all I want. I will never spend a cent on RDR:O. I will buy a Sadie story on day one and I'll even get whatever bullshit preorder or special edition bullshit they try to push.

      I just fucking want it.

    The best female protagonist that sticks in my mind always is April Ryan from The Longest Journey. She had a rough time but stuck through it. Zoe Castillo is a second favourite but she didn't really have the same impact, probably because we didn't get to experience as much of her normal life as we did with April.

    Jen from Primal is also another favourite. I still say "Locked" in imitation of when she tries doors in the first location she visits.

    I also have a soft spot for the Scythian from Swords and Sworcery. She never speaks, she has the roughest of days but she still perseveres through it all, rainbows included.

      April Ryan! What's great about April is you get to see her in her more developed state, later.

      I related pretty hard to April in the early 00s when the game came out; artsy, looking for scholarships, working shitty hospitality jobs trying to get by, surrounded by... 'unique individuals', struggling with weird dreams.

      I still kinda wanna open a cafe like the Fringe cafe, and have Tor Linløkken's music and similar play in it.

      Didn't end up finishing TLJ at that point. Wasn't until maybe ten to fifteen years later that I finally got around to it, and at that point it was a nostalgia blast to those weird late-teen years.

      I've not heard of any of these. I am writing them all down now!

    Impa and Zelda in Skyward Sword were great.

    (Also obligatory Groose even if he's not a girl)

    Not sure if it’s been said but the first thought that popped into my head was Chloe and Nadine, especially for uncharted: the lost legacy. Such great characters and performances with those two

      I like how Nadine transistioned from antagonist in UC4 to protagonist in ULL without the core of her character changing. Often they neuter strong characters when they become the good guys.

    Femshep was an amazing example of a well written and voice-acted female protagonist. I am in a constant state of wanting to replay the whole trilogy, and she’s a huge part of that.

    Apart from her, 100% Ellie from TLOU. Also, Jade from Beyond Good and Evil. Evie from Ass creed syndicate. Sam from Until dawn was tropey fun. The Boss from MGS: Snake Eater. So many.

      Honestly the list of great female VG characters is longer than the male one. For all the talk of females getting hard done by in VG writing the men don't fare much better. They're so often reduced to blank slate beefcakes while females are "allowed" to show flaws and vulnerability so they're often more multifaceted.

        I feel like this is one of those PATRIARCHY HURTS MEN TOO situations.

        It's so hard to get your game financed if your protagonist is female and not super sexytime girl, so you're under pressure to really prove that you needed to not have a white dude or a sexy lady.

        If it's a white dude who is a tough ex-soldier with a heart of gold and a dead wife? Fuck it, we got the cash, let's make a game.

    Missing Bayonetta, Elaine Marley and Ulala!

      Who are those last two?

        Doing that 'making everyone feel old' thing again.

        Governor Elaine Marley is from the Monkey Island series. Tough call for the list, as she's certified badass, and powerfully independent, a Pirate Governor to boot, but she does end up a damsel in at least one of the titles (the protagonist's fault, though - and she does rescue him in every other title), and being such a badass, she's mostly a foil.

        As for Ulala... space channel 5 wasn't my thing, so all I ever really saw of Ulala was as a scantily-clad mascot. Might as well have picked Bloodrayne.

    I found that Sadie Adler's arc isn't defined well enough. Perhaps it was the voice acting, but she went from zero to "ah'm gonna bag mee sum russlahs y'all" too quickly. If that change had occurred after a 'time passes' break, it would ring more true, but it just seems there wasn't a smooth analogue transition between the Sadie you meet and the one who shows up later.

      If you speak to her often through the early parts of the game you see it happening. It's still quite a jump, but I think that's indicative of her trauma being replaced with unfocused anger. Once she's done being sad, all she has left is rage and it turns her into what she is very quickly. She's not scared of dying and she's burning up with hate. The rules just don't apply to her anymore and she just jumps in head first.

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